Jonathan McDonald

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Farming Status and Plans

Years actively farming:

6-10

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

Greetings, Landowners,

My name is Jon McDonald.  I own and operate Premier Pastures -- a diversified, regenerative pasture-based livestock farm, currently operating on 100 acres of leased pasture and woodlands in Dutchess County. 

I am entering my second season as a full-time tenant farmer, and I am ready to purchase my own piece of farmland to continue to grow my farming operation; enter long-term land stewardship; and soon start a family.  I am hoping to secure land by December of 2021 to transition my operation.  

I have 9 years of farming experience in the regenerative agriculture space, which started in 2012 when I joined the Peace Corps as an Agroforestry extension agent in West Africa.  Thereafter, I obtained a Permaculture Project Management Degree from the Permaculture Research Institute and a M.S. in Environmental Management.  My partner is a Real Estate investor and would like to take on the agritourism and AirBnB element of our operation.

 

Description of marketing method:

As of April 2021, I have a 30-member meat CSA with many repeat subscribers from last season.  I am also an established weekly vendor at Chappaqua, Hastings, and Beacon Farmers Markets.  Most of my sales are direct-to-consumer retail sales, but I also sell half/whole animals and have restaurant accounts.  

Does this farmer have a business plan?

Yes

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

  • Capital Area
    • Albany
    • Rensselaer
    • Saratoga
    • Washington
  • Hudson Valley
    • Columbia
    • Dutchess
    • Greene
    • Orange
    • Putnam
    • Rockland
    • Sullivan
    • Ulster
    • Westchester

Desired acreage:

51-100, >100

Infrastructure required:

Onsite housing, Barns or other facilities for storage of equipment, livestock, and crops, Farm equipment, Water access, Fencing, Electrical Access

Description of buildings required:

The following buildings are strongly preferred:

  • On-site Farmer Housing, adequate for a small family
  • Livestock barn(s) in decent condition
  • Workshop and garage spaces
  • Outbuildings & run-in sheds
  • Smaller on-farm housing for interns and AirBnB

Description of farm equipment required:

Access to a tractor and skid-steer is highly desired.  I am considering financing a tractor through Kubota if necessary.  I own a 16' livestock trailer, 1995 5.9 Cummins, 2011 Gator XUV825i, and a 1998 Tacoma. 

Description of water access required:

A well system with frost-free hydrant(s) is strongly desired.  Natural springs and streams would be very nice, too.

Description of fencing required:

Perimeter fencing is desired, ideally high tensile.

Crops and Livestock

Primary crops:

Hay

Primary Livestock:

Cattle - Beef, Pigs, Poultry

Description of livestock/crops:

  • 100% Grass-Fed & Finished Beef:  I have a Red Devon cow/calf operation and I also raise feeder steers.  The beef herd is rotated intensively on pasture using electric fencing for the duration of the grazing season, and they are fed fermented hay baleage during winter months. I will be breeding 13 of my Red Devon heifers with a Devon bull this summer and will be processing five of my Angus/Hereford steers for markets.

 

  • Woodland-grazed Mangalitsa Pork:  I raise Mangalitsa/Berkshire hogs in 30 acres of mixed woodlands.  Piglets are farrowed on the farm, and are sired by my purebred Mangalitsa boar, crossed with Mangalitsa/Berkshire sows.  The pigs farrow naturally in the woods and are rotated frequently in electrified paddocks to ensure ample foraging.  Their diet is supplemented with non-GMO grain from Stone House Farm & local biodynamic veggies from Thousand Leaf Gardens.  I will be processing a total of 35 hogs this year for markets.

 

  • Pastured Poultry:  I raise 1,000 Cornish Cross chickens in Suscovich-style chicken tractors and slaughter the on-farm, weekly, to deliver fresh whole chickens to our CSA members and restaurant clients.  Our broilers’ diet is supplemented with non-GMO grain from Stone House.

 

  • Pastured Eggs:  I raise a flock of 350 heritage laying hens in portable egg-mobiles that are frequently moved to new pasture with poultry netting and roll-away nesting boxes.  The flock contains Barred Rocks, Americanas, Buff Orpingtons, Austrolorps, Silver-Laced Wyandottes, Welsumers, Copper Marans, and Sapphire Olive Eggers.

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

For Lease, For Sale

Additional Information

Will this farmer's operation qualify an eligible landowner for an Agricultural Assessment?

Yes

Experience & education:

Formal agricultural education, Farm owner, On farm work experience, Farm internship/apprenticeship, Farmer training or workshop, Other

Experience description:

My formal agricultural education started while I was enrolled in SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry from 2008 to 2012.  In 2013, I joined the Peace Corps and was enlisted as an Agroforestry extension agent in The Gambia (West Africa) until 2015.  In 2015, I enrolled in a year-long internship a the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia.  During my internship I engaged in several farm management roles.   I spent the next year working on several farms in Australia, and eventually made my way back to America in 2016, where I worked on a pasture-based livestock farm in South Carolina. In 2017, I enrolled in the Grange School of Adaptive Agriculture in California, and then went to complete my Masters in Environmental Management in Colorodo, while working to manage a local nonprofit farm (Mountain Roots Food Project) in Gunnison CO as a fellowship for my masters degree. In 2019 I enrolled in the Rogue Farm Corps' Advanced Apprenticeship program, and I am currently working for a pasture-based livestock farm outside of Eugene, Oregon.